By TED RADICK
COLUMBUS — Liberty-Benton’s girls 3,200-meter relay placed higher the past two years than the Eagles did at Friday’s OHSAA DIvision II track championships.
But considering the extenuating circumstances the L-B quartet has faced all year, a spot on the podium was a welcome relief.
The Eagles, second last year and third in 2015, placed sixth Friday in 9:28.36. The quartet of Lindsey Bishop, Meghan Bartel, Evie Stump and Leah Recker cut nearly six seconds off their seed time from last week’s regional meet.
It’s been a challenge for the Eagles. Recker has battled mononucleosis throughout the winter and spring. Then, Bishop got teninitis. After that, Bartel was sick.
“I think our main goal was to get on the podium again, so getting sixth place was a pretty good finish for us and we shaved some time off from last week,” Recker said.
“We’re happy to be all-Ohio again,” Bartel said.
Recker and Bartel, the seniors in the relay, medaled in the event three times in their careers.
“I’m glad I had a chance to come back to state and run with my teammates,” Bartel said. “I’m glad with the finish we had, we finished on the podium and I’m happy with that.”
Recker, who competes today in the open 800, ran all four years of her career on the two-mile relay.
“It’s bittersweet, for sure,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed every second of it.”
Ottawa-Glandorf senior Melissa Knott ensured a place in the 100 intermediate hurdle race by taking second in her heat (the top two finishers in each running preliminary plus the next five fastest times advanced to today’s finals).
Knott ran a personal-record 14.85 and says she has plenty in the tank for today’s race.
“Hopefully, I’ll PR again,” she said. “I PRed today with a 14.85, and coming out of regionals I had a 14.95. Hopefully if I can just PR a little bit more, I will be toward the top of the podium.
“I may not finish first, but to get a medal would be a blessing and that’s my goal for now. It’s just a blessing to be here, and the competition just makes everyone better.”
In Division III preliminary events, Columbus Grove’s Rylee Sybert was the only individual to advance to the finals. Sybert qualified ninth in the 200 in 26.01, and knows she has to improve only one spot to get all-Ohio honors.
“I came here and I knew I wasn’t going to be the best,” she said. “I’m just happy to be here, and to make the podium, or have a chance to, is just great. I think my legs are a little tired, I know I ran exactly a second faster in my split of the 4×2, but I know I can do it now.
“I’m going to try my hardest no matter what, and I just hope I can get on that podium.”
Like Sybert, Pandora-Gilboa’s 400 relay quartet has some catching up to do. The Rockets qualified ninth in 51.30.
Kelsey Basinger pointed out that’s already ahead of P-G’s 15th-place finish last year.
“It’s exciting that we made the finals, because last year we didn’t run our time. We just didn’t perform,” she said.
“We came here a little more confident this year,” Alexa Maag said.
The Rockets won the race at the Tiffin regional, and Korri Basinger said she and her teammates know they can improve today.
“I think so, it kind of made us think ‘We’re good at this race, let’s go. Let’s do it,'” she said.
Anchor Alaina Basinger knows just one place needs to be gained for a state medal.
“I’m just going to look at her, go get her and catch her,” she said.
Ottoville’s 1,600 relay team had a bit of an easier time, as Lindsay Schweller, Madison Knodell, Nicole Williams and Brooke Mangas qualified sixth for today’s final in 4:02.18.
“We ran better this time than we did in the prelims at regionals,” Knodell said. “We took three seconds off in the regional final, and we’re going to take some time off tomorrow.”
“We can do it again, definitely, we just have to push ourselves,” Schweller said.
OTHER AREA GIRLS FINISHES
400 RELAY — 12, Ottawa-Glandorf (Kirsten Siefker, Alaina Stechschulte, Amanda Sahloff, Melissa Knott) 50.32.
3,200 RELAY FINAL — 15, Kalida (Kelly Doepker, Kayla Fortman, Madison Langhals, Taylor Lucke) 10:02.12, 16, Mohawk (Destini Oler, Anna Stillberger, Alexa Konkle, Madison Fredritz) 10:08.99.
100 IH — 11, Carlee McCluer (Columbus Grove) 15.89. 13, Lauren Willow (Arlington) 16.01.
800 RELAY — 12, Columbus Grove (Alycea Ruhlen, Jade Clement, Carlee McCluer, Rylee Sybert) 1:49.22.
400 — 10, Bethany Smith (Vanlue) 59.52. 14, Addystin Lykins (Carey) 1:01.74.
300 LH — 15, Jenna Clouse (Old Fort) 48.49.
1,600 RELAY — 16, Pandora-Gilboa (Amelia Arthur, Olivia Schulte, Korri Basinger, Alexa Maag) 4:21.14.